Monday, May 18, 2009


The Music of Clouds, May 2009, JBowring

Aura inheres in elusivity. In its necessary distance lies a certain paradox, circled by Walter Benjamin in his evocation of the moment when, "If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch." Aura is seductive, and the pursuit of the affective can be treacherous, as Anne Noble cautions, one should not "hurry an image into pathos." Such an affectation of the affective is, as Anthony Vidler observes, there in the "turn-of-the-century Jugendstil photographs that used 'penumbral' tones to try to simulate the aura of an earlier time." And it is within the shadowy illumination, the paradoxical nearness of distance, that aura is issued forth ... at once pushing and pulling, intimate and immense, a withdrawal from the world of things and presencing of that very world, and within such doubling a realisation of what Bachelard has termed a "penumbral ontology."

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